In order to better determine the level of services needed by Louisiana residents with developmental disabilities, the Louisiana Department of Health Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) will soon conduct individualized screenings for those who have applied for home and community-based waiver services and are on the agency’s waiting list.

Today, more than 9,500 people receive services under the New Opportunities Waiver, or NOW. There are another 14,000 people on the waiting list that is formally called the Request for Services Registry for the waiver. The screenings are now underway and will continue through May 30, 2017. 

“This screening initiative will set the foundation for a comprehensive plan to understand and address the needs of individuals and family members who have been waiting for services for a long time,” said Louisiana Department of Health Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto. “When the screening process is complete, the department will evaluate the data and consider policy changes so we can best meet the needs of citizens with developmental disabilities in our state.”

Purpose of the Screening

The screening will allow professionals to better understand the needs of each individual who is on the waiting list, and make referrals to other available services, where available and if needed. Accepting other services will not change a person’s registry status. The screenings will provide OCDD with a more accurate understanding of the level of need for those who have requested community-based services under the NOW waiver.

Individuals on the waiting list will be contacted by a screening representative who will schedule a time to meet and conduct the formal screening, called the Screening for Urgency of Need (SUN). The screening visit is expected to take approximately two hours. It is important that individuals complete the screening. Individuals who decline screening will be listed as having no unmet needs. Screenings will be conducted in the individuals’ homes at times that work best.   

During the screening, individuals can expect to talk with a screening representative about their needs, types of existing formal and informal supports/services they currently receive, types of supports/services they need but do not currently receive, and the urgency of their needs. After the screening process, appropriate referrals will be made to the regional Human Services District/Authority or other governmental agency. 

“OCDD has been working in collaboration with recipients, families, advocates and stakeholders to improve services and better understand the needs of those we serve,” said OCDD Assistant Secretary Mark A. Thomas. “It is important for individuals to participate in this screening so they can maintain their spot on the request for services registry and so we can know what their needs are and continue to guide them to other available resources.”

How the Waiver Services Registry Works

Currently, individuals can make a formal request for services and then be added to the Registry. There is no requirement to demonstrate a level of need when making an initial request. It is only when a person’s name makes it to the top that an individualized assessment is conducted.

A person advances in line on the Registry when additional NOW waivers (known as slots) are funded and a person at the top of the list accepts a NOW slot. Funding for additional slots are at the discretion of the Legislature and, for example, no additional slots were funded for the current fiscal year. 

OCDD, in partnership with regional Human Services Districts and Authorities, support coordination agencies and other agencies that serve people with developmental disabilities, will conduct the screenings using a standardized instrument.

Sandee Winchell, executive director for the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, said the screenings will provide valuable information on the type and urgency of needs of those waiting for services. “This data will allow the state to project the dollar amount necessary to meet the needs of these individuals and direct resources to where they are most needed,” she said.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more about LDH, visit www.ldh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.